Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Garland by Jamie Hogsett

Tomorrow is the first day of December, which is a fact I find really difficult to believe. It seems like Halloween was just last week, not Thanksgiving. Regardless, holiday season is in full swing, which means it's time for holiday decorations, and that makes me happy. My mom always made our house look beautiful for Christmas and it's a tradition I'm hoping to carry on, though on a much smaller scale. I have a little tree that my grandma passed down to me, and I've been slowly collecting items for it. 

Of course, what I truly enjoy is making holiday decor, for my place and for gifts as well. So, here's a quick and easy garland I finished up this morning, using materials donated by Rings & Things. This garland mixes basic wire wrapping and stringing skills and would look gorgeous with an infinite number of different beads and findings. I was worried that it would blend in too much with the tree, but the gold wire ball beads sparkle and shine a lot! 

Please enjoy project instructions for the Holiday Garland below: 

Soft Flex Craft Wire 22-gauge Gold
Econoflex Wire .019 diameter Cinnamon Red
2mm x 2mm Gold Filled Crimp Tubes - 18 crimps
2" Gold Filled Head Pins - 2 head pins
Gold Plated 20mm Wire Balls - 10 wire balls
Red Nylon-Covered 12mm Stretchy Rings - 20 rings
Red/Blue/Green/White 7x12mm Chevron Trade Beads - 39 trade beads
Clear Matte Size 6 Seed Beads - 70 seed beads

Wire Cutters
2 pairs of Chain- or Flat-nose Pliers
Round-nose Pliers
Crimping Pliers

Finished Size: 28" (I made this pretty short so that I could wrap it around candles and evergreen boughs on my table. Simply add beads to make it long enough for a tree.)

Step 1: Use 4" of Gold Craft Wire to form a wire-wrapped loop that attaches to 1 red ring. String 1 seed bead, 1 wire ball, and 1 seed bead. Form a wire-wrapped loop that attaches to 1 red ring. Repeat entire step nine times, for a total of ten wire ball links.
Step 2: Use 7" of Cinnamon Red Econoflex Wire to string 1 crimp tube and one ring of 1 wire ball link. Pass back through the tube and crimp. String {1 seed bead and 1 trade bead} five times. String 1 seed bead, 1 crimp tube, and one ring of 1 wire ball link. Pass back through the tube and crimp.
Step 3: Use 5" of Cinnamon Red wire to string 1 crimp tube and the other ring of the previous wire ball link. Pass back through the tube and crimp. String {1 seed bead and 1 trade bead} three times. String 1 seed bead, 1 crimp tube, and one ring of 1 wire ball link. Pass back through the tube and crimp.
Step 4: Repeat Steps 2 and 3 three times, attaching each new wire to the other ring of the previous wire ball link. Repeat Step 2, attaching the wire to the other ring of the previous wire ball link. 
Step 5: Use 1 head pin to string 1 seed bead, 1 trade bead, and 1 seed bead. Form a wire-wrapped loop that attaches to the open ring of the first wire ball link used. Repeat to attach a dangle to the remaining open ring on the last wire ball link.

Look for new holiday project ideas every week in December! If you have any requests, please leave them in the comments.

Guest blogger Jamie Hogsett is the Education Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. Contact her at Jamie@SoftFlexCompany.com.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spotlight on...Elizabeth Goins

Our featured designer for this month is Elizabeth Goins

A creative and artistic spirit, with a loving talent to design and create tasteful and elegant jewelry is what is reflected in each piece of jewelry hand-crafted by Elizabeth Goins of Jewelry Trinket Designs. What started out in 1996 as a fun hobby that fulfilled a creative outlet, Jewelry Trinket Designs has developed into a more sophisticated line launched in 2004, now offered on eBay and in local boutiques.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Soft Flex Gallery in Sonoma, CA Open Every Wednesday!

Hi all! I tried to get lots of pictures of the unique beads in our gallery while I was in Sonoma last week. Here are a few of my favorites, to see all of my photos from my trip, click here!

Our gallery is in Sonoma, CA. It is open to the public from 10am-3pm every Wednesday. If you are a wholesale designer or a store, you can also make wholesale appointments for Tuesday or Thursdays if those days are more convenient for you. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few months ago, my co-workers and I created a list with the many reasons that we felt thankful at work. Most noted that they were thankful to have a job, period - certainly a sign of the times. The Sonoma crew moved into our new building last December and  most of them noted how lovely it was to have extra space in a professional environment. Our telecommuters noted how thankful they were for the freedom and trust that they were granted by Mike and Scott to work from home. After having our first big Soft Flex Gallery event last weekend, I think that we can all agree that we are thankful to see our gallery open and operating. It is a dream come true, after many, many, many years of work. Just about everyone noted how thankful they were to work for people like Mike Sherman and Scott Clark. So you see, this holiday season, us Soft Flex'ers have a lot to celebrate. I hope that your list is as long if not longer than ours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jupiter Bracelet by Jamie Hogsett

A good friend of mine recently showed me this gorgeous picture of Jupiter. I was immediately inspired by the color combination and was excited to find beads in my stash that look almost exactly like this planet. A new bracelet idea was born and I put the finishing touches on it last night.
It's difficult to tell in pictures, but the red and gray jasper oval beads look almost identical to the surface of Jupiter in the picture above. I added garnet simple-cut nuggets, clear quartz polished nuggets, and Crystallized Swarovski Elements bicones in 5mm light azore and 4mm Pacific opal, and rounds in 3mm mint alabaster. Soft Flex Metallics Copper Color .019 diameter beading wire was used to string all the beads together on two separate strands. Once these wires were crimped and covered, I used Soft Flex Craft Wire in 28-gauge Brown to add more beads between the two strands. The 28-gauge wire was woven back and forth through the added beads and around the strung strands, giving the cuff a little bit of stiffness and a lot of strength. A sweet little sterling silver star clasp finishes it all off.
I'm continually amazed by all of the many places to find jewelry-making inspiration. The colors in this bracelet will always make me thing of this picture of Jupiter. If only I can see that planet and all it's beautiful colors in person one day!

Guest blogger Jamie Hogsett is the Education Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. Contact her at Jamie@SoftFlexCompany.com.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mike Sherman - A Spinal Cord Injury

Mike and I in London, September 2009

There is never a good time to share bad news. In this case, it was a real struggle to decide when and how to share Mike's news. We set up a blog specifically for Mike - Mr. Flex. It has been a long standing joke as to who is Mr. Flex and who is Mr. Soft between co-owners, Mike and Scott. Mike decided that this was his chance to claim the name for good. His sense of humor is completely and utterly intact. I'll update the blog as he sees fit. The good news is that he shows improvement on a daily basis. He is more and more active each day. Please feel free to leave comments on his blog. I'll make sure that he hears them and I know that he'd love to hear from his many friends.

To be updated on Mike's progress, follow this blog

Packaging Ideas by Kristen Fagan

I LOVE packaging.  I have spent a few hours but, could have easily spent a few days looking at packaging ideas to share with you. The thoughtful way you package your items can make a great impression. With the holidays here, many of your sales will be gifts. An item packaged nicely will impress your buyers and their gift recipients, that's a win-win!  Here are some lovely packaging ideas and tips I found on my hunt.

Brand your items.  Make sure you stamp, sticker or label in some way your business name and contact information on your packaging. You want your buyer to remember who they purchased the item from. Check out the many sellers making custom stamps, labels, ribbon and more in the Supply category on Etsy.

Dish Handbags has a fantastic branding idea.  This designer had a custom stamp made and stamps her own ribbon. Doesn't this package look stunning!

Show your style. Add your personality to your packaging, ask anyone who buys from artists why they do, and I bet you'll get the answer of a unique item created with love. Take your items to the next level by giving your packaging the same level of care you give to your items. The Flickr Group Nice Package has a bunch of wonderful examples.

Here's a simple packaging idea from CUTEureCreations. A few extra touches such as matching tissue paper to your brand, a nice ribbon and a sweet thank you card (business card tucked inside) elevates this packaging
Gracie Designs uses lunch bags and fabric scraps for packaging her goods. I love the simplicity of this package.  Plus, you can reuse the lunch bags!
Postal Treats created a darling package by creating their own newspaper envelope, attached a sticker with brand information and tied with twine.

Ship with care.  Fragile items need special packaging. If you're shipping a gift for the holidays, there might not be time to replace a broken item. So stock up on chipboard, eco-friendly packing peanuts, newspaper, etc. Oh, and don't forget to weather proof your packages as much as possible.
Sugar Flower Designs, recycles the trimmings from her stationary, when crumbled it makes a sturdy packaging material and coordinates with the items being shipped.

I stumbled upon this Carton Resizer tool used to re-size recycled boxes for shipping. Re-sizing with this tool makes a neat tidy package, and inches can save you a lot of money when it comes to dimensional pricing when shipping. It's a time saver too.  If you re-use boxes for shipping this is a tool you may want to check out.

Packaging items take time.  Think about how you want to package your item and stock up on supplies so, as that craft fair approaches or your online sales start rolling in you are ready. As you can see from the examples above adding your own style does not need to break the bank. Have fun with it and your buyers are sure to remember you!

Guest blogger Kristen Fagan is the Website Graphic Designer for Soft Flex Company. She also has her own blog and etsy shop.  She'd love to hear from you! So, please feel free to leave comments or email her at Kristen@SoftFlexCompany.com.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Soft Flex Craft Wire - Customer Testimonial

Hey, hey! We have been slowly launching our new Soft Flex Craft Wire this year. I was so excited to see the full rack display in our gallery this weekend. Whoa! The colors just jump right out at you. We have almost all colors and gauges in stock now, just in time to stock up for your holiday projects. 

Here is a note that we received from one of our customers that speaks to the quality of our new Soft Flex Craft Wire.

I've used and LOVE the new "Craft" wire.    
I have had less than acceptable results with other products when using it for Viking knit and don't want to experience that again.

Below is what happened with one of your competitor's wire ...the loss of color made me sad.
Here is the result with your Art Wire.  Happy!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Open House - Saturday and Sunday in Sonoma, CA!

It has been really neat to see the new Soft Flex building and gallery in Sonoma, up close and personal. I wanted to share a few pictures of the gallery before our Holiday Open House this weekend to encourage our Northern California friends to stop by. 

I can honestly say, we have an extremely special collection of beads, gemstones and findings along with our worldwide recognized beading wire products. We'd love to have you stop by and see what we have to offer. If not this weekend, we are now open to the public on each and every Wednesday all year long.

Visit us at our first event in our new gallery!
One-of-a-kind items, never before seen! 
Free Make-it-Take-its
Free Parking
Free Admission
Great Clearance Prices

November 20 & 21, 2010
22678 Broadway, Suite 1
Sonoma, CA 95476
Saturday 11/20 11am - 5pm 
Sunday 11/21 11am - 5pm

Ask Sara - Special T Glue

Question: Please tell me more about the Special T Glue. I'm on a quest to find the very best adhesive for my jewelry work. I need a glue that holds metal to metal (non-porous), light weight materials. I've used E-6000, Loc-Tite and G-S Hypo Cement. 

Answer: I have not tried metal to metal, but I have glued glass to metal using the Special T Glue and it worked quite well. This glue is super strong. It also can be flexible when used on a thread or cording. You never need very much, which is why I typically do not use the applicator on the bottle. I usually unscrew the lid with the applicator attached and just dunk a tooth pick or eye pin into the glue and spread a thin layer of glue onto whatever I'm working with in the moment. I highly recommend this glue. I've used it for years. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Spotlight on...Color by Margie Deeb - Integrate your background colors

Integrate Your Background Colors
by Margie Deeb

I’ve had students tell me that they can successfully use any colors they want in a composition as long as they place them all on a black background. I’ve heard glass bead makers proclaim a white background to be the answer to any color dilemma. The common stance here is that a white or black background ties together all colors in question.
In some instances this will work. But relying on black or white to pull together your palette will not nurture your growth as an artist, and will inhibit you and your self expression (and bore you all the while). If you use this or any other color formula, in all likelihood you're leaning on it as a crutch to prop up a weakness or a fear.
I find it much more fun to choose background colors from a sense of purpose, so that the entire troupe of color works together, each augmenting the best in one another.

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